Having a dog walker can be a wonderful experience for your dog. They get to socialise with other dogs in a group, and get to explore new places. But how do you go about choosing one? Here’s my guide to help you make an informed decision.
Firstly, the essentials. Every dog walker should have dog walkers insurance and canine first aid as minimum. This shows that they take the responsibilities of walking your dog seriously. A DBS check will help you feel more comfortable with letting them have a key to your house, but isn’t an essential requirement. Find out how much experience they have, if they have any relevant qualifications and check their references thoroughly. You can find dog walkers by asking your vet or groomer, or by recommendations on Facebook.
Next you will need to sort out the practicalities. How much do they charge and how will you pay them? Will they be using a car or a van? If you are going to be out when they walk them, they will need a key, so ensure that they do not put your address on the keychain.
Depending on your dog’s needs, you will want to know what kind of walk they will be going on. Will they be walked solo, or in a group? How many dogs will be in the group? Where will they take them, and do you give them permission to let your dog off lead? You will need to make sure that your dog always has a collar and ID tag available, or your walker may not take them, when they arrive to pick them up.
It’s good to have a think about your dog’s needs. Are they shy or friendly? Will they enjoy walking in a group, or find it stressful? If they are food guarders, please let your dog walker know, as some dog walkers will carry treats for reinforcing good behaviour and recall. Ask your walker if they are force free, and don’t be shy to ask questions about what they would do if your dog ‘misbehaves’ or hurt themselves while out on a walk.
I’ve known many dogs during my time as a dog walker. Some absolutely love being out with a walker, while some struggle being in a group. Photos or videos are a great way of reassuring yourself that they are enjoying their walks, and a good dog walker will be happy to answer any questions about how they are getting on.
As a trainer and behaviour practitioner I am happy to help if you have any questions regarding this big decision. I also have a free advise group where you can ask questions of other dog owners that have experience with dog walkers. Take a look at, Help! My Dog…